APEC 2012: Wining & Dining Are No Substitute for Human Rights & Rule of Law
By Innokenty Grekov
The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit has wrapped up. Diplomats and business executives mingled at cocktail receptions and watched $8 million fireworks on Russy Island, where Russia hoped to demonstrate its potential to become an economic powerhouse.
But such efforts will fail if Russia doesn’t demonstrate a commitment to the rule of law and human rights.
Foreign investment in Russia shrank 14.7 percent this year, and capital outflows have reached $348 billion since 2007. This summer, U.S.’ Third Millennium-Russia and Swedish investors Vostok Nafta left Russia for good, citing loss of confidence, rule of law concerns, and “lack of clear-cut ground rules for foreign investors.” Meanwhile, foreign banks—including Britain’s Germany’s WestLB, Barclays, Spain’s Santander, & the U.S.’ Morgan Stanley—have also shut down their Russian branches, unable to compete with state-owned counterparts.
Persuading foreigners to invest will remain a struggle considering that top stories coming out of Russia focus on widespread corruption, election fraud, and sham trials. Though President Putin is flying high these days—hanging out with cranes and suppressing dissent—the “lame-duck summit” will not to boost Russia’s international prestige.
In advance of the summit, thousands of Human Rights First’s supporters urged Secretary Clinton to stand in solidarity with Russia’s civil society.